Friday 30 December 2016

Reflecting On 2016

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I know you are going to be sick of seeing these posts in your feeds and timelines by now. They are pretty overdone, aren't they? Even though I know everyone does these posts, I think they are really important. It can be so easy to let your life flash before your eyes and never really take the time to stop and reflect on what you've done and achieved and where you are going, looking into the future. 

The great thing about these posts is that they are little Polaroids or snapshots in time, that help keep a record of everything you did in that year, so you never forget and always have something to look back on to see how far you've come. I did one of these this time last year, looking back at that post and seeing how much has changed in just a year and how far I've come with my blog, is pretty unbelievable.

2016, hasn't been the worst year of my life. Nor as it been the best year of my life. It's been a year of ups and downs, highs and lows. Days of despair and days of joy. But the main thing is that I got through, I achieved a lot, and I have been knocked back. But I've grown a lot as a person and honestly, can't wait to see what 2017 has to offer. Today I'm going to be reflecting on some of the major events that happened in my life this year, both positive and negative. Plus I thought I would also outline some of my plans for 2017! Let's take a trip down memory lane...

Oh gosh, where do I start? Should I start with the negatives first? 

#1 Changing College Courses 
If you've been following my blog for a while, you will know that I have already been at college for a year, but at the start of 2016, I decided that the childcare course I was doing, just wasn't for me. I wasn't enjoying it and couldn't see myself working in the childcare profession in the future. So I decided to make a jump from a BTEC course to A levels, starting in September. It turns out I made the right choice. Although it was scary at first, knowing that I was neglecting a course which I was achieving in and got an A* in overall, the whole course fell apart and everything went into turmoil including my mental health.

#2 Being diagnosed with OCD & depression
In June, after months and months of suffering, I was diagnosed with OCD & depression. From around Easter time, I completely fell apart. The course that I had to stick with for the rest of the year was going into melt down, teachers were leaving, lessons weren't happening, deadlines were drawing ever closer and to top it off I was being segregated and isolated from every single person in my class. Which resulted in me having to finish the course at home because I was too scared to go in and have a three month summer holiday. Although having a three month summer holiday sounds fantastic, it really was a struggle. I was very ill and spent most of the days housebound. Being diagnosed with OCD, was a step in the right direction, though. It meant that I could start getting the support I needed and start my very long, bumpy road to recovery. 

#3 Grandad's Cancer 
Towards the end of 2016, my grandad was diagnosed with prostrate cancer. This has been incredibly upsetting and challenging for my mum, which has put a strain on her own health. As I write this, he is about to undergo radiotherapy and in the new year we will find out if it has been a success or not. For now, all I can do is cross my fingers and support my family as much as I can, through this difficult time.

#4 Blog developments and progress 
On to the positives now, yay!! My little baby, otherwise known as my blog as come so far this year! I started off the year strong- posting every other day, which I kept for up some time until things got hectic at college. I posted nearly every day in July and August, as well. All this hard work has definitely paid off numbers and stats wise, I now have over 5k Twitter followers, 1.3k Bloglovin followers and over 150k views which are honestly insane and I can't thank you guys enough. But it's not just the numbers that are important to me. This year, I have made a dramatic change in the type of content I make, focusing a lot more on mental health, which I hope to continue in 2017, with a complete rebrand, so keep your eyes peeled for that. But also the friends I have made this year through blogging. A day doesn't go by when I don't speak to my best chummy, Hannah! This little ray of sunshine, who honestly means the world to me. I feel like I am a real member of the blogging community nowadays. There are so many bloggers out there, who I could really call friends, who mean the world to me and support me through the difficult times, which I'm always going to be grateful for.

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Reflecting On 2016 mental health wellbeing support illness depression bloggers UK

#5 Parents 25th wedding anniversary 
Back in May, my parents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, we went on holiday to the Isle of Man in June/ July. The Isle of Man is such a beautiful place, which really has a different pace of life than mainland England. Unfortunately, I was very ill during that holiday with my OCD/ depression. I struggled a lot during the week, and I cried a lot too, but, despite this, we did still have a good week. I'm so happy for my parents, I envy their relationship, and I hope they spend many more happy years together. 

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Reflecting On 2016 Snaefell Isle Of Man bloggers review photography

Reflecting On 2016 lemurs zoo animals Isle Of Man blogging bloggers UK

#6 Starting A levels & new friendships 
When I decided to drop my childcare course at the start of the year, I had to choose what I was going to carry on with in September. I picked A level psychology, sociology and philosophy. ( we will pretend biology never happened LOL) I didn't know how I was going to react to being in college five days a week, turns out I'm doing pretty well academically. Most of the time I feel like I'm drowning, constantly trying to pull my head up over the NEVER ending pile of work and deadlines. Much to my surprise I'm actually enjoying my A levels and have actually made friends. Like a proper group of friends, so ya know that's kind of cool! 

#7 Turning 18 
A month ago I turned 18. The big 1 8. You can read my thoughts about turning 18 HERE. It feels great to be 18, but it also seems like nothing has changed, that's funny enough because nothing has changed. I'm still me, good old Nicole who will always love Disney and get over excited at the littlest of things! Because that's just who I am! 

#6 Becoming a volunteer/ YAP communications officer for OCD youth/ OCD action 
My last achievement for 2016, which actually carries on and takes effect in 2017, was that I was elected to be the communications advisor for OCD Youth, a charity run by OCD Action for those suffering from OCD who are under the age of 25. I've always wanted to volunteer with a mental health charity, what makes me so happy is that it's one that means so much to me. I can't wait to meet up with the rest of the YAP and start undertaking my role, to help and support those with OCD & help end the damning stigma and discrimination. 

Plans for 2017 

#1 Start CBT and kick OCD's butt 
Hopefully, my CBT should start very soon. I've been on the waiting list since October. I really want to start now because I know once I start getting the help I need, to make a recovery I will be able to get my life back on track. 

#2 Meet my blogging buddies 
Alongside the meet ups with YAP, I want to attend more blogging events and meet as many as possible of the absolutely amazing bloggers & friends I talk to every day on Twitter! 

#3 Completely rebrand blog 
This is something I am hoping to do very soon in fact. I want to change my blog name, but my own domain, buy my own blog design, buy a custom made header and solely dedicate my blog to mental health and wellbeing! 

#4 Work hard at ending the stigma that surrounds OCD with blog & YAP (volunteering)
I'm not going to stop talking about OCD and ending the stigma that surrounds mental health until there is no more discrimination and stigma! Through blogging and volunteering, I'm going to have a very busy year coming up with lots of fresh and innovative ideas to do this. 

#5 Challenge myself more, go out my comfort zone 
With attending more blog meet ups and volunteering, this is very likely to happen, and I want to make sure it does. 2016 hasn't been the best year of my life, so I want to make 2017 better. I know that sounds dead corny but who wouldn't want a better year than the one they had before? 

Thanks for reading the longest blog post in blogging history.

I'll see ya in 2017!

Thanks for reading, as always X
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